Dr Shirin Lakhani, a recognised expert in intimate health for both men and women, shed light on why Blue Monday can be hard for women experiencing menopause.
“Blue Monday is the name given to the third Monday in January, and it’s been given that name because it is officially the most depressing day of the year. People are feeling tired, sluggish and bloated after weeks of overindulging and low morale and lack of motivation make this the day people are most likely to call in sick.
Low mood and depressive symptoms are often the first symptoms of perimenopause; this time of year, the nights and dull weather can worsen symptoms. In addition, serotonin levels, responsible for happiness and relaxation, often drop, adding to feeling low.
In reality, Blue Monday hasn’t been scientifically proven, but real-life factors can make life feel extra hard on top of menopausal symptoms, such as paying back Christmas debt and the gloomy weather. So if you are feeling low or depressed for a sustained period, you should consult your GP.”
Dr Shirin Lakhani’s top tips on lifting your mood during this time.
It’s important to reach out to people around you and discuss how you feel. It’s also important to get a good night’s sleep if you can
Taking magnesium may help as it is known to relax our muscles and nerves. I also recommend people take a vitamin D supplement as most of us are short in vitamin D at this time of year. Vitamin D deficiency symptoms may include fatigue, not sleeping well and feelings of depression and sadness.
Eating foods that can boost your mood should also be a priority, such as lots of fruit and vegetables, whole grains and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon.
I would also suggest women go and see their GP and discuss taking HRT for low mood if they are also experiencing other symptoms of perimenopause.
Often women have been prescribed antidepressants instead, but while low-dose antidepressants such as SSRIs and SNRIs have been shown to improve the vasomotor symptoms of menopause and may be useful in women who are unable or unwilling to take HRT, in my experience, treating with antidepressants like this can instead result in side effects that are similar to those associated with the menopause.
This includes problems with concentration, problems with sleep and a decreased libido.
Mary O’Donnell, a 44-year-old mother from London, sheds light on her experiences with menopause over this time of year: “As the festive season is now well and truly over and we move into the third week of January, the reality of the indulgence of Christmas and trying to get back into the swing of things, while supporting my family to do the same, can make this time even more demanding than the Christmas period.”
“This coupled with a lack of sunshine and vitamin D over the winter months, low moods and struggling to get back to being active are heightened, something I have found more challenging during this period since starting my menopause journey four years ago.”
“I have found that altering my mentality to focus on “small wins” has made it easier to cope with the January blues. Simply taking a stroll or having a nap or bath are all low-pressure wellness steps that can alter your mood for the day.”
“Alongside small personal wins, arranging a quality time with friends over this period will give you something to look forward to. Make sure that all arrangements can be flexible as you never know how you will feel on the day.”
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